Tuesday, August 22, 2017

It's back

Got back home around noon.  I'd had to take a bunch of back roads because of all of the road construction on the major roads.  It was pretty scenery though and I had a V.I. Warshawski novel on CD. I was only half way through the CD's by the time I got back.  My neighbor Doug had looked in on my pets while I was gone but I still got a warm greeting from them at the door.  Kept busy for what was left of the day - usual work around the house and setting up for those last of the summer projects. Tonight there isn't anything interesting on TV so I took the CD's from the car and am playing them on my portable radio.  Interestingly enough all of my animals are gathered around - Blitzen and Dunder are sitting on either side of the computer and Indy is on the rug in front of the desk.  Who would have thought they liked listening to books on tape too?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse in Sleepy Eye

My brother Phil and I took a road trip today to Sleepy Eye where there is a great shop that sells stained glass.  Phil had a woodworking project calling for glass panels in the doors.  He wanted to try textured glass instead of plain panels.  (I just wanted to nose around through glass.)  We both found what we wanted before the solar eclipse (which in Sleepy Eye would only be 88%).  The shop said they would cut the glass to fit in Phil's project and had to also cut up some sheets for me.  While they worked on that Phil and I went out for lunch.  Eclipse maximum occurred when we were driving back to the shop to pick up our purchases.   As you can see it got very dark -  however windshield wipers turned out to be more effective for viewing than solar glasses.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Orange Hawkweye

Svengoolie is airing "The Invisible Ray" tonight.  I usually like sci-fi and I like old movies but putting the two together is problematic.  Svengoolie said the movie was made in 1936.  However, I thought I heard Boris Karloff say he was looking at the Andromeda nebula but later he calls it "an island universe".  Andromeda was originally called "Messier object 31" and thought to be a nebula.  Messier numbered these "fuzzy patches" in the sky so he wouldn't be confusing them w/ comets.  (It being the 'in' thing to find comets at that time.)  Edwin Hubble figured out by the mid 1920's that Andromeda was actually another galaxy or "island universe" as he called them.  Boris than relates that Andromeda is three quarters of a million light years away.  Well, that's a forgivable error.  Andromeda is more like 2.5 million light years away but distances have been recalculated many times since then.  Anyway, watching the movie is all very unsettling but hopefully I'll be asleep before the next astronomical inaccuracy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Snake skin

 At 9:30 a.m. Indy and I took off for the swamps.  We started out via the gravel pit.  It had rained most of yesterday and I've learned that the big trucks don't come in the day after a rain so the pit was quiet.   Indy nosed around while I looked for pretty rocks.  My pockets were bulging by the time we started off through the swamp - I'd be carrying those stones for the rest of the trip.  Asters are blooming.  They are the last flowers before fall and frost.  A reminder to finish up all those summer projects (or in some cases get started on them).  Saw quite a few snakes this time out.  They were all tiny garter snakes - not even full grown - though I did find the skin of one of their parents on the trail. Then something bigger crossed the path directly in front of me and I gasped in surprise.  Indy immediately ran back to me ready to defend.  The "much bigger thing" turned out just to be a toad (I startle easily.)  Nice to know that Indy is on her toes.  We must have dawdled more than usual because we didn't get back home until well after 11:00.   The only bad thing about the trip is Indy must have rolled in something along the way.  Whenever she lays down, the kittens run over to smell her.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


I don't know Indy's lineage.  She's quite smart so I've always thought she was partially a herding breed.  I got verification of that this morning.  By mistake, I left the back screen door open a few weeks ago.  Both kittens were outside when Brent called it to my attention.  Since then they have watched for another chance to 'walk on the wild side'.  When I opened the front door this morning, Dunder bolted out.  While I put shoes on I called for Indy and pointed at Dunder who was gleefully leaping down the driveway.  Indy figured Dunder shouldn't be outside and took off in pursuit.  She got on the other side of Dunder and executed an excellent imitation of a cutting horse to prevent Dunder from going further.  Dunder turned and ran across the lawn.  Indy was close behind so Dunder turned up the path I have mowed around the stockade's perimeter.   However Indy is also part Labrador Retriever and became more interested about smells in the tall grass.  I was close enough now to catch Dunder who had also stopped - enticed by other smells in the grass.  If you are wondering why Blitzen didn't also make a break for it, it's because she is the thinker of the two. You see it was raining during that whole chase scene.  Dunder was one soaked cat by the time I got him back inside.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pennsylvania Leatherwing Beetle on Tansy

Chimney sweeps Hythe and Jason arrived a little after 8 a.m.  My fireplace hadn't been cleaned since it was installed over 10 years ago.  Hythe walked in, stopped, and said they had never worked on a fireplace like this one.  Not a problem.  I had all of the installation specs and instructions that came w/ the fireplace on the kitchen counter for reference purposes. Cleaning and inspection went fast and the only fix they made was to reapply a silicon bead to the chimney's storm collar.  As they were about to leave I asked when I should have the fireplace cleaned again.  Jason started a speech about all of the agencies they were certified by.  I realized that he was obligated to give the official line of 'clean your fireplace yearly.'  "All of that said", he smiled, "you have a great fireplace.  Simple design.  Super efficient.  The only soot we found was a powder coating."  I got it.  I could probably wait a few years before I needed to get it 'reswept'.

When the sweeps had first arrived I hustled Indy into her run and placed the kittens in their utility room.  I barricaded their access door w/ books.  The sweeps had just begun their work when I noticed Dunder peeking around the corner.  Blitzen was right behind him.  I put the kittens back in their room and checked the books.  Those kittens had muscled right past them.  I added my 3 volume complete set of Shakespeare's works to the book stack.  "Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd" but they couldn't get past the bard!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Purple Cone Flower

Lots of fog this morning so Indy and I took off for a walk in it.  Of course had to change my clothes when I got home since just walking through the stuff was enough to get everything wet.  Bopped over to have a filling fixed in my tooth.  When the hygienist cleaned my teeth last week she was afraid that an edge left on the tooth would catch when I flossed.   (Remember, that's how I lost that filling last time.) So a different dentist took a look at it, used a type of sandpaper to it, and then called in the same hygienist to see if she was happy w/ the result.  (I've got sandpaper at home.  However, since the fix was no charge just as well to let the doc do it.)  Stopped off to pick up my Christmas cards that arrived.  I always prefer getting them in August.  There are good deals and no concerns about if they will arrive in time.  Then had my hair cut and colored.  My hairdresser had just purchased a new horse so I heard all about it.  Made a mental note to myself that when talking about my pets I should be succinct and let my listener ask questions if they find the subject interesting.  Did some grocery shopping.   I was now able to make the cheese souffle I had started to make yesterday but realized, after I had measured out ingredients, that I had no milk.  My souffle's fall as soon as I bring them out of the oven so decided to whip up the egg whites to hard peaks.  Turned out not the thing to do.  Souffle actually fell while still cooking.  Tasted yummy though.  Anyway, a good day - did something, learned something, failed at something.  What more could one ask of a day?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Water horsetail

I developed a slight rash on one finger after a walk through the woods.  I didn't remember being bitten by any insect so decided it was probably caused by something I had picked up in the forest.  There has never been poison ivy in this area since I was a kid so it probably wasn't that.  Got on the Internet and the sites I found said that the photo-dermatitis caused by wild parsnip bubbled up like a burn but didn't spread.  Gradually - over days - the bubbling was spreading.  Could be flesh-eating bacteria.  However anyone who noticed it asked if I had burned myself on the oven.  Figured that it was more likely that the Internet wasn't infallible than that I had picked up a flesh-eating bacteria.  After a week the bubbling stopped, the top skin flaked off, and I just have a light-colored scar now.  There's wild parsnip some where out there.  If I can find it again, it's gone.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Purple Fringed Orchid

Nancy and I both agreed that the sermon,while big on visual aids, action, and story, was not very thought provoking.  We chalked this up to the children's pastor giving the sermon this morning instead of the regular pastor.  A good ploy to have some of the other pastors occasionally give the morning sermon - makes one appreciate the regular pastor more.  The last song before leaving church was a hymn.  Yep, an old-fashioned - sung in the right key at the right tempo - no extra trills added hymn.  Nancy and I both continued to sing it as we made our way out of church.  Shook hands w/ the pastor at the door. Since we were still singing he looked at us a little strangely.  Great thing about growing older is while people look at you strangely more often, you care about it less.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cup Plant

In the middle of my designated area for native plants I was happy to see that I had some wild sunflowers blooming this year.  They are as tall as I am so they are pretty noticeable.  Figured they were Maximilian's since I often see that species on my walks but when I got closer I realized the leaves envelope the stem creating a cup which holds rain water.  It was a cup plant!  I remembered then that my friend Kris had given me one quite a while ago.  I had planted it in this area but when it didn't bloom the next year I just figured it hadn't made it.   I looked it up and there are other plants in this family that take years to get established before blooming. Then there are the yellow goat's beard seeds I planted - they typically bloom only every other year.  The area I have for wild flowers is large enough that I can easily forget where I planted something yet small enough that I might dig up a plant I wanted when planting another.  I needed to know where specific plants were located.  I thought I had metal identification stakes but couldn't find them.  What I did find was solar light stakes.  Perfect.  I wrote the name of the plant on a tag, affixed the tag around the light, and covered it over w/ clear packing tape. I put a stake next to the cup plants, two by the cone flowers (they are purple instead of yellow so I might have planted them), one next to the sneeze weed I transplanted there this summer, one next to the bare ground where I planted the goat's beard seeds, and one by the American Fly honeysuckle that I had nursed all summer from a cutting this spring.  The rest of the wild flowers in that area planted themselves so they are on their own.  Only drawback to my plan is that whole area will be lit up each night like Christmas.

Friday, August 11, 2017


I read the memo written by a now-former Google engineer on why he believes women are underrepresented in tech jobs.  I would have fired him too.  Besides expounding some truly archaic ideas about women (and men), anyone who would write a 10-page "memo" is an idiot.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Culver's Root

Off and on rain all day.  Early on I saw that there was a lull in the rain so decided to go on a quick walk w/ Indy.  I didn't take my camera and, of course, there was a Monarch butterfly that landed close by and spread it's wings to dry off, sprays of chokecherry berries each w/ a droplet of rain hanging from it, and a pair of ruffed grouse on the path in front of me.  Indy watched them but didn't seem all that interested and on the grouses's side they noticed us but just ambled on down the trail unconcerned.  It was raining again by the time we got home.  We found a break in the weather again in the afternoon for another quick walk.  Might try to get in one more walk tonight.  That will mean putting on a third pair of shoes since the ones I wore for the first two jaunts are still drying out.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Pickin`up the bales

The corn on the way into town is tasselling. I love the smell of pollen so drive w/ my windows down when I travel that stretch.  There are also forest fires in Alberta so occasionally I've been smelling wood smoke at night. Come to think of it, it usually smells quite wonderful around here.  In the winter there is the faint evergreen scent.  In the spring there is the sweet smell of the flowering trees - plums, apples, cherries, elderberry, lilacs.  The blooming times are staggered so the smells last a long time.  In summer the flowers kick in w/ fields of bergamot, clover, and milkweed flavoring the air.  Now that is getting later into the year I can smell the  mown hay and the ripening tall grasses (not to mention the corn).  I try to remember all of those wonderful scents on those relatively few days my neighbor upwind spreads manure. (Actually I'm far enough distant that even that smell is OK w/ me.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

'Leaning Tower' Northwoods style

A rule when putting clothes out on the line to dry is to not place 'unmentionables' so they are in view of the whole neighborhood.  I live quite a way from the road but I still abide by this rule.  I pin my 'delicates' on the first line which is next to the house.  There are four lines which are really just one line looped back and forth through eyelets.  The line(s) are tight but have some give.  So when I hang my light microfiber sheet on the fourth line closest to the road it's still heavy enough to pull that line down a bit and up pop my panties in full view on the first line.    Placing a towel at one end of the first line and a pair of jeans on the other end is enough weight to cause the fourth line to tighten up so that all one sees from the road is the sheet - no matter what else I hang on the other lines.  Just another example of applied physics.